"It may be that for time-strapped dads, meals are the primary means of spending time with their kids, so they favor making it a special occasion by taking them to restaurants, even if that means these special occasions happen frequently," said Keith Ayoob, a dietitian and associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.
Eating out can be a good thing if both parents make healthy choices.
"A lot of times, people are so busy that dining out actually forces people to spend time together, which can be beneficial for family time," said Keri Gans, a spokesperson for the American Dietitic Association and author of "The Small Change Diet."
If dads make healthier choices, whether at home or in restaurants, they can benefit their children as well as themselves.
"It's a 'win-win' situation," said Gans.